While doing my spring cleaning I came across a CD of favorite hymns, played on exquisite music boxes. My husband and I acquired the CD at a most unusual museum, The Musical Wonder House in Wiscasset, ME. Rich and I vacationed in nearby Booth Bay Harbor back in the 1980’s and spent many days at the Musical Wonder House. We gave up dinners so we could take home a beautiful box of our own (see below). As we’re both musicians and Rich is a collector (Beatles and Linda Ronstadt paraphernalia) this museum really spoke to our hearts. The museum unfortunately closed in 2014.
A glimpse into Lizzie’s musical world
The CD, called Songs of Praise, contains favorite sacred songs along with music of the great masters such as Handel, Gounod and Martin Luthor. Since the heyday of music boxes was between 1830 and 1900, I think it’s safe to assume that many, if not all of these pieces were familiar to Elizabeth Alcott. It has given me a glimpse into her musical world.
Two of Lizzie’s favorite hymns
I’d like to share two hymns with you, both of which I have written about before as being her favorites (see previous post). They are both rendered on music boxes dating back to the 1890’s.
First, “Nearer My God to Thee” played on a Mira 18 inch console music box:
And second, “Come Ye Disconsolate” played on a 17 inch Stella music box:
We’ll never know if the Alcotts ever had the privilege of hearing such beautiful music boxes (perhaps through their wealthy Boston relatives) but I could just imagine Lizzie swooning (as I do) when I hear these beautiful renditions of her beloved hymns.
Our own music box
Here’s the box we bought made by Reuge, a Swiss company, playing the Faust Waltz:
Have any of you visited the Musical Wonder House?
Note: I’ve posted something new in From My Garret–quotes from Constance Fenimore Woolson about writing that really ring true. As she and Louisa lived during the same period (although Louisa was older), it’s a shame they didn’t meet. Not sure however if they would have been friends. You’ll have to read Anne Boyd Rioux’s biography of Woolson to find out. 🙂
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